A University of Iowa colleague of mine, Dr. Ahmed Souaiaia, Associate Professor of Islamic Studies, and I were discussing the planned Palestinian proposal for statehood to the United Nations this week. Dr. Souaiaia mentioned that Hamas, the militant Palestinian faction that controls the Gaza Strip and actually engaged in a Palestinian civil war with the larger Palestinian political party, Fatah, was one of the only Arab organizations actually opposed the proposed Palestinian bid for statehood (a little-reported fact I later confirmed in a number of articles that U.S. media outlets apparently don’t want you to see).
In fact, despite the fact that the 22 nation-members of the Arab League have endorsed the Palestinian bid for statehood, Hamas does not. This is because the negative space left behind by the proposed pre-1967 borders of the Palestinian state to be proposed at the United Nations would, by default, define a state of Israel. That is, the area that is not claimed within the borders proposed by Palestine (encompassing the West Bank and the Gaza Strip), and, that is not claimed by adjacent nations must belong to someone, and that someone is Israel.
This is precisely why Hamas does not support the bid: it has less to do with political representation of Palestine by Fatah (which Hamas opposes), and more to do with a simple acknowledgment of the reality of the state of Israel.
Hamas would rather not have a Palestinian state than acknowledge an Israeli one.
And that is precisely why Hamas should be ignored, and why Fatah should move forward with the bid on behalf of Palestine. It is why the 22-member Arab League has endorsed the bid, why Israel should concede (if they cannot politically support the plan), and why the United States should not veto the bid.
Palestinian statehood through recognition at the United Nations is the two-state solution. Israel and Palestine should set aside old arguments over olive trees (hat tip: Thomas Friedman) and allow the bid for Palestinian statehood to move forward. It’s the win-win for Israel and Palestine that everyone has been seeking for decades. It allows for something that has never existed: an internationally recognized Palestinian state! It allows Israel to save face by allowing them to oppose a unilateral Palestinian bid for statehood, and yet concede that the United Nations is the same organization that set the foundation for an Israeli state in 1947. It allows the United States to support its own policy of a two-state solution. (President Obama just needs to articulate the fact that a vote in favor of the Palestinian statehood bid forces Arab League states to recognize Israel.) And, it thumbs an international nose at Hamas, the terrorist organization that has stood in the way of peace (or at least has been the Israeli excuse for avoiding it) for decades.
And if Hamas so much as fires a single shot in an attempt to sabotage the process, the newly formed coalition of neighbors – Palestine, Israel, the Arab League, the US, the UN, and anyone else who wants to join in – should once and for all end Hamas’ reign of terror and oppression of its own Palestinian people. We can remind those in Gaza that Hamas would rather forfeit a Palestinian state than make peace with Israel (and Fatah). We can remind them what life has been like under Hamas leadership. And, we can point out the imminent reality of their centuries-long dream of an internationally recognized Palestinian state is near.
All that needs to happen is for President Obama and the United States not to veto the Palestinian bid for statehood. Until this, we wait, and we hope that 2012 electoral college math doesn’t influence Mr. Obama’s judgment on the matter at hand.
Robert R. Cargill
Filed under: iowa, israel, palestine, politics, University of Iowa Tagged: | Ahmed Souaiaia, arab league, bid, borders, fatah, hamas, islam, israel, palestine, proposal, statehood, thomas friedman, united nations